When hotels and B&Bs are looking at new sources of revenue, future workspace trends may not be the first thing that springs to mind.
Equally, co-working spaces are not necessarily something you’d expect to find in a hotel.
But changing habits mean more people are more mobile, whether they’re working remotely or building a start-up on the move.
So hotels could do far worse than think how they can best appeal to ‘digital nomads’, the growing number of people who can work anywhere, any time.
And there are plenty of benefits to swapping the library or coffee shop for a hotel lobby, from the reduced noise to the excellent Wi-Fi connection to the comfort, warmth and elegance that many hotel lobbies provide.
Co-working spaces are set to rise to 3.8m by 2020, and hotels are uniquely well placed to offer space where people can work, together or alone, and meet one another.
The hotels already offering working spaces
Boutique establishments have been among the first to adapt to this new need for working space. Hobo in Stockholm, for instance, brands itself as ‘a meeting point, workplace or office,’ with workrooms available to hire in advance.
The Austrian capital’s main railway station, Hotel Schani Wien in Vienna, has created a working facility in the lobby with 12 desks. Paying guests can work there for free, while others can buy a pass for 10 or 30 days or rent a desk by the month.
Hotel groups AccorHotels and Bouygues Immobilier have joined forces in a bid to create dozens of working spaces by 2022, in a project called Nextdoor.
Meanwhile, the Richmond Hill Hotel in London is incorporating co-working into a major refurbishment.
How the hospitality sector can adapt
Hoteliers can do a lot in order to create spaces encouraging co-working:
• Hotel workspaces must facilitate connections between guests, but also meet local people’s needs. Think about how to reach non-residents, who may not want to stay overnight, but who may nonetheless be persuaded to work in your hotel.
• Create an all-day destination, with daytime workers using the hotel in the evening as they meet work contacts, colleagues or friends for dinner, drinks or cocktails.
• Be flexible, and consider offering rooms for hire at a day rate for as little or as much time required, which could also be ideal for one-off use.
• Think about the quality of coffee and other food and drink, and how you could best entice workers to linger and spend money. Great cocktails and interesting craft beers, for example, could help ease the transition from daytime co-working to evening trade.
Increasingly, hotels are getting wise to the growing demand for flexible working areas. The days of functional reception spaces and featureless hotel lobbies are over as these places become hubs of creativity where freelancers, start-ups and others work and meet each other.